Daniel Massey

Daniel Massey

FEBRUARY 24, 1798 - NOVEMBER 15, 1856

Daniel Massey was a farmer and farm-implement manufacturer of Upper Canada, notable for being the founder of the Massey farm implement business, the predecessor of the Massey Ferguson company, an enormously successful multinational corporation that is currently one of Canada’s premier farming equipment manufacturers. His company and its legacy would revolutionize farming in southern Ontario.

Massey was born on February 24, 1798 in Windsor, Vermont, the son of American farmers Daniel and Rebecca. When he was only six years old his family emigrated to Upper Canada- to the Haldimand township- in pursuit of cheap farming land. After receiving his education in Watertown, New york, he took over the management of his family farm at only fourteen years of age (as his father was called in for service in the Upper Canada militia), which he managed admirably according to records. It was during this time that he developed an acute understanding of farming equipment and their inefficiencies. Just seven years later he would be the owner of his own 200-acre lot of land, and he promptly began extensive land-clearing operations with a one-hundred man workforce. By 1830 he had cleared 1,200 acres and had earned a reputation as an expert on the subject. During this time he made frequent trips to the United States to visit family, often bringing back with him the latest farming implements that were often unknown in Canada. He was well-known for his “Bull-thresher”, the only one of its kind in town, which was used by most of the members of his community.

After thirty-two years of farming experience, Massey had turned his attention to labour-saving machinery. With no blacksmiths in the vicinity, he took the initiative to open up a small workshop where he would repair his machinery and those of his neighbours. In 1847, he decided to hand over the farm to his son, Hart, and focus entirely on his machine work. He moved to Newcastle and began a partnership with local foundryman Richard Vaughan, the two of them opening up a small blacksmith shop to repair implements, quickly becoming the sole owner. In 1849 Massey moved his business to a large two-storey brick factory, purchasing an additional fifty acres of surrounding land as he anticipated the future growth of the community. His business, then known as the Massey Manufacturing Company, or the Newcastle Foundry and Machine Manufactory, would repair equipment and produce new and innovative machinery from the United States, and soon he had gained a reputation as a reliable and successful entrepreneur.

In 1851, his son was made superintendent of the factory as Daniel began to near the end of his career, and in 1856 he passed away, leaving behind a prosperous business. Through his repair work and machinery production, Daniel Massey played a significant role in the betterment of his community, but it was the founding of his company that truly cements his legacy. Under the guidance of his son Hart, the H. A. Massey Company (as it became under his direction) grew and grew: they exported their products overseas for the first time in 1867, shipping reapers and mowers to Germany. In 1891, Hart merged the family company with their chief competitor, A. Harris Son and Company, and formed the famous Massey-Harris Company, headquartered in Toronto. This company would usher in decades of innovative work in the field of agricultural machinery, and it soon had plants all throughout Europe as well as North America. It was in 1958 that the company merged with the Ferguson Company of Britain to form the internationally-renowned Massey-Ferguson Ltd., a company still supplying equipment for and cherished by farmers today.

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